Wild Wednesday 23/52 White-tailed Kites

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

On and off for a few weeks I’ve been going to over to a nearby park to photograph and check on a young family of White-tailed Kites.  The adults have two Fledglings.  They aren’t quite ready to be on their own yet.  Mom and Dad are still hunting, and bringing in food for them.

I had hoped to see a mid-air food transfer between parent and fledgling, but that didn’t happen. Mom dropped the food in the nest on this evening.

White-tailed Kite with Prey

Myself and several friends went back the following morning bright and early.

Here’s a look at the Fledglings in the nest:

White-tailed Kite Fledglings

The Fledglings have been flying around the big fields practicing their hovering, spying prey, and diving, but I don’t know that they’ve actually caught anything on their own yet.

I went back again this past Saturday hoping to see and photograph the mid-air food transfer. It happened, but I missed it! After the oldest fledgling left the nest and it didn’t look like anything would happen following it, I set my camera back on the smaller fledgling still in the nest thinking it would follow shortly as it had before, then I heard oooh’s, and ahhh’s to my right and looked just in time to see the transfer but didn’t get my camera on it in time.  I didn’t anticipate that. 😥

Here’s one of the Fledglings in flight on my last visit June 2, 2018:

White-tailed Kite Fledgling in Flight

I fear they’ll be own their own and kicked out of the territory when I return next week.  Mom and Dad have already set up another nest across the field from this set of Fledgling’s nest, and they’re making the fledglings wait for longer periods of time between feedings.

I’ll be offline by the time this post goes live. I’m leaving the house in He-Man’s, and #1 Grandson’s capable hands while I’ll be camping in the wilderness with a group of photographers. 12 of us plus guides, and a cook are going to be tracking by foot, and horseback Wild Mustangs.  I can’t tell you how excited I am about this trip!

As I type my bags are nearly packed. I’m waffling on which wide angle lens to take, and worrying about staying within my dunnage weight limit of 40 pounds!

Wish me luck that I don’t get thrown from my horse, we find the team of Wild Mustangs, get loads of wonderful images made,  Hot Dogs don’t make an appearance on our dining menu.  Some of you know I don’t like Hot Dogs, and I don’t get so saddle sore I’m unable to ride.  I’m packing Butt Butter! ☺

I’ll catch up with you all when I get back.  Until then I hope you have a wonderful week, and stay safe!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm| SanDisk Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…

 

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Wild Wednesday 22/52 American Bald Eagles

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Last year we had a pair of American Bald Eagles make a nest in a Redwood tree which is located in the front yard of an Elementary School right here in Silicon Valley. It was very exciting news.  We hoped they’d return this year. Not only did they return to their nest they’ve had two chicks!

Myself and several friends had made a couple of trips over to see and photograph them, 2 weeks ago we met there again.  When I pulled up there were many photographers there, and they were quickly changing positions, and pointing up, one friend already there motioned me to hurry.  There was something exciting happening.  I quickly parked, got out of the car then went to get my camera out of the back of my car. The Female was coming in and she had dinner!  I had to act fast she was flying low, fast, and being dogged by crows who squawked at her the whole time.

There was a row of trees blocking my view, so I ducked down, and sans tripod got her in my viewfinder and fired off three rapid shots then I lost her in the trees. Since I was hand-holding my 200-500mm lens  I wobble all over the place and my position of ducking and shooting wasn’t stable. I didn’t have much hope for having a decent shot. My rig weighs just a smidge under 8 pounds (4kg). I’ve never had any arm strength. 😥 Two of the images were nothing but a blurry blob in the frame, but one was worth saving for myself. It’s not print quality, but I thought I show you it anyway because you can tell what birds they are, and what’s happening.

Mama Eagle scored a whole duck for dinner. A whole duck! There were 3 crows dogging her, but I only got one in the frame with her. See the duck?

Milpitas Eagle Famale with Kill and Crow Chaser

Mama stayed near the nest watching the Eaglets eat for sometime, and the Eaglets would pop their heads up from time to time looking for their parents.

American Bald Eagle Chicks

Mama decided it was time for another flight.  I photographed her just as she left the branch she was on.  I love this shot! Her wings are enormous!  I barely fit all of her in my frame.

American Bald Eagle Adult Female

Dad was nearby on a branch higher up keeping watch, but after Mama left and the chicks were fed he thought it was safe for him to come down and clean off his beak.

He cleaned it by rubbing and wiping it on that branch.  Under his back end below the branch is the nest. You can just make out a chick in there.  Dad has lost all his beautiful white tail feathers!  I hope they grow back.

American Bald Eagle Adult Male

We stayed watching and photographing them until sundown when we lost the good light. I have more images I want to share of the adults, but again I’ll wait for a rainy day, by then I may a few of the Chicks as Fledglings.

Pets Update:  I finally took a photo of Box, and someone cough! (Dan) reminded me that I haven’t shared a photo of Diva Dog in sometime.  Imagonna fix that for ya. 🙂 I had Yosemite Sam pop into my head when I heard that last sentence in my head. 😜

Box is still shy:  He loves to hide in the back corners, and he loves his hay bag. I got him at a good time munching on hay.

Box the Guinea Pig

 

…and for Dan, Diva Dog- Yesterday was in the 80’s and today is supposed to be 89°F.  Early summer?  When it’s hot she likes to lay on the cool wood floor in the entry hall, or on our bathroom floor’s Travertine tiles.  She wouldn’t pose for me. Too hot! I’m sorry you can’t see her cute neckerchief.

Diva Dog Staying Cool

It’s supposed to cool down mid week. I hope you’re not too hot or cold,  and I hope you’re all having a good week, and great day!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm @500mm| SanDisk Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…

 

 

Wild Weds. 19/52 Mandarin Duck Male

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Several months ago I went birding near Sacramento, CA. to look for two exotic ducks, one was the Wood Duck which I blogged about here.  The other was the Mandarin Duck.

The week before I visited the pond there were two pair at the pond, but the morning I went there was only a lone male.  He’s gorgeous don’t you think?

Mandarin Duck Male

He sought the shade of a palm tree, but soon came out from under again, thankfully!

Mandarin Duck Male

Here are several facts about the Mandarin Duck:

The Mandarin Duck Drake is widely considered the world’s most beautiful of the ducks. It’s a native of China and Japan.  They favor small wooded ponds and avoid large bodies of water.

There are limited populations in the United States; they’re usually escapees from captivity.  China exported thousands of Mandarins, but the trade was banned in 1975.

They are wonderful fliers, able to fly through trees, with remarkable agility.

They will often perch in trees, but the female will lay her eggs (9-12 eggs) in a hole or cavity of a tree, or if a nesting box if one is available.  Once the Female has gathered her brood she takes them straight to the water!  Mandarin Ducks only pair up for a season. New pairs form again in the Fall/Autumn. ~https://www.livingwithbirds.com/tweetapedia/21-facts-on-mandarin-duck

I was thrilled there was still one there for me to see and photograph.

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm @500mm| f/8| 1/200s| ISO 800| Tripod w/Wimberley Sidekick Gimbal Head

more to come…

 

Wordless Weds. 16/52 Western Meadowlark

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

HELLO!  I’ve missed you guys!  I’ve been MIA for what seems an age.  I caught the flu on the 5th and am finally out of bed and back in the land of the living!

It’ll be a few more days before I’m back to normal strength, and the Doc says the cough is going to linger for a week more or so, but I’m as happy as this Meadowlark singing its song.  I could break out in my own kind of Happy to be over the flu song, but the cough…and my voice is a bit hoarse, so I’ll spare you. 🙂

These two images are from earlier in the year. I can’t wait to get out with my camera. It’s missed me. 🙂

Western Meadowlark Male Singing

Western Meadowlark Male poser

How are you guys? Holding up and faring a far sight better than I’ve been I hope. I’ll be catching with your blogs soon!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm| SanDisk Digital Film| PSCC 2018

more to come…

Wild Weds. 12/52 Duck, Duck, Goose!

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A couple of weeks ago when I shared the Snow Leopard  images here 

I mentioned that my friend and I went birding before we visited Sacramento Zoo. We went to Sacramento, CA to find special ducks, and geese.  The Ducks were some of the most colorful ducks here in the States.  Wood Ducks, and a Mandarin Duck which I’ll save for another post, and a new Goose for me the African Goose.

There were a couple pairs of Woods Ducks, and quite a few African Geese making the day very successful.

Wood Ducks can be found here all year long, but we see them mostly in Spring.  They have sharp, strong claws that allow them to climb branches. They will nest in boxes if they’re provided, but if not they’ll nest in holes in  trees.  The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that regularly produces two broods in one year.  The Wood Duck is considered one of the prettiest of all waterfowl.

Wood Duck Male

Wood Duck Male

Wood Duck Female- She’s looking up at a nesting box that the Wood Ducks kept taking turns flying up to.  They’re paired up now so brooding is on their minds no doubt. 🙂

Wood Duck Female

Wood Duck pair-  I was focused on the male, and shooting at f/8, but the female isn’t as sharp as I would have liked her to be.  What do you think he’s talking about? Traffic on the pond? Or how beautiful she is? Or how wonderful he is at nesting, and fathering chicks? 🙂

Wood Duck Pair

The African Goose- Isn’t really from Africa they think it’s really from China and related to the Swan Goose from China.  It’s most distinguishing feature is its knob on its bill/face front.

I’d never seen this Goose before. We don’t have many knobbed fronted birds here, but it’s a beauty.  It’s not listed in either of my Bird books for North America so, I turned to Wikipedia for information about it. See below the images.

This one might be a mix of white and brown because of the orange in its knob, or maybe it’s breeding colors? IDK? 🙂

African Goose in the Pond

Several came out of the pond to forage on the lawn. I liked the way this one stopped foraging to give me “the look”.   I didn’t get any closer.  🙂

African Goose

Here’s an image of what I think is a male African Goose. It was HUGE, and you can see the Dewlap (the hanging bit under the chin) that is mentioned below as a distinguishing feature.

African Goose Male

The African Goose is a breed of goose. The African goose breed most likely originated in China, despite the name. They may possibly be related to the wild swan goose a smaller species of goose, just like their close cousin the Chinese goose. Though they share some similar characteristics (such as colour variations), the two can be distinguished by the African’s larger dewlap and different knob shape. African geese are also quite a bit heavier than Chinese, and are better known for their docile temperaments. Also, they are known to lay far fewer eggs than Chinese geese, 25-40 eggs per year for the African goose vs. 40-65, or, in extreme cases, up to 200 eggs per year for Chinese geese.

Two origin theories persist for the fowl: the first purporting that Africans are the result of crosses of swan geese and Chinese, while the other asserts that they are pure derivations of the swan goose, and their unique traits are simply the result of selective breeding. Whichever the case, it has existed as a distinct breed since at least the middle of the nineteenth century, and was admitted to the American Poultry Association‘s Standard of Perfectionin 1874.

Ganders often have a higher pitched call than the geese, and are taller, while the females are shorter and stockier, with larger keels or lobes.

African geese appear in three color varieties: Brown, Buff and White. Browns have black bills and knobs, and plumage with irregular shades, from a very light to dark brown. Whites have all-white plumage and orange bills and knobs.” ~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_goose

 

It was an outstanding morning at the pond seeing these and several other species.

I hope your week is going well, and it’s easy going til Friday!

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm| San Disk Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…

 

Wild Wednesday 8/52 Hawk

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

While out birding in Central Valley last month I saw lots of Red-tailed Hawks. This one was happy to pose for me. 🙂 At least I think this one is a Red-tailed Hawk.

Hawk

Red-tailed Hawks are quite common here. Their habitat is wide open fields. They like to perch in trees along fields, fence posts, and telephone poles.

Their Behavior- from All About Birds:

“You’ll most likely see Red-tailed Hawks soaring in wide circles high over a field. When flapping, their wing beats are heavy. In high winds they may face into the wind and hover without flapping, eyes fixed on the ground. They attack in a slow, controlled dive with legs outstretched – much different from a falcon’s stoop.”~allaboutbirds.org

They’re so common here I almost take them for granted. I’m always hoping to spy other types of Hawks instead of them, but when there are none about I’m so happy they’re here.

Sunday, I planned to go out to do some photography at the coast, but the wind was blowing 20-25 mph, and it was cold and gray, so I stayed in and watched Season 1 of Monk. Guess who found Streampix? 🙂 I hadn’t ever watched that show before, but I really like it. I’ll be watching every season til I am caught up. Yep, I’m hooked. 🙂

Recently I’ve also binged watched Vikings, and Camelot.  Those are two more T.V. shows I’m now Jonesing for the next season to begin already!

I’m currently reading A Dead Guy at the Summerhouse by Marian Allen who I discovered here on WordPress via Thursday Doors. You can find her here.  She writes Sci-fi stuff too. Yeah, she’s right up my street. 🙂 Check her out if you enjoy reading these genres too.

So, what are birds are seeing in your neighborhood, what are watching and reading right now?

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm| Hoodman Digital Film

more to come…

Wild Wednesday 4/52 White-tailed Kite

Copyright ©2018 Deborah M. Zajac.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

A friend and I went birding Saturday at two Wildlife Refuges. We reversed the order we normally do these two refuges and I’m glad we did. It was pretty birdy at Merced Wildlife National Refuge, but I’m going to share with you the last bird I photographed for the day at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge.

And, what a bird to end the day on! It’s my favorite raptor.

White-tailed Kite

It’s a medium sized raptor and likes open grasslands, and savannas.  It hovers while hunting for prey, and have big amber/red eyes. Here’s some information about their hunting behavior from allaboutbirds.com

While hunting, the White-tailed Kite characteristically hovers up to 80 feet off the ground and then drops straight down onto prey items. This ability to hold a stationary position in midair without flapping is accomplished by facing into the wind, and is so characteristic of these birds that it has come to be called kiting. White-tailed Kites also perform ritualized courtship displays in which a male offers prey to a female prior to egg laying. In an often spectacular aerial exchange, the female flies up to meet the male, turns upside-down, and grasps the prey.“`allaboutbirds.com

I think they’re the prettiest of the raptors.  If I could be a bird this is the one I’d be. 🙂

You’ll find them up and down Western to Central California, Oregon, Mexico, Central and South America.

Nikon D810| Nikkor 200-500mm@500mm| 1/640s| ISO 500| cropped| Hoodman Digital Film| PS CC 2018

more to come…